With all of its different variations, the men’s shirt is without a doubt the most versatile article of dress there is. If you have the right styles, getting ready in the morning can be as easy as throwing one on and looking fresh. But with so many endless options out there, which types of shirts should you stock your wardrobe with to ensure you have all bases stylishly covered? Choosing which shirt type to wear for each occasion is as important as having them in the first place. A Hawaiian shirt has no place in the office, and that’s a hot take we’ll stand by.
From the classic office button-up shirt, to the casual weekend tee, these are the 15 essential types of shirts for men that you’ll want to have on hand.
1. Oxford Button-Down Shirt
Sharing its name with the Oxford cloth from which it’s cut, the Oxford shirt is a menswear classic that’s been serving as the bedrock of many stylish outfits for well over 120 years. The fabric is quite thick compared to most others in shirting, giving it a casual edge. A button-down collar and hanger loop to the back of the yoke are common design traits that also make this top easy to store.
If ever there was a true, essential type of shirt for men, the Oxford button-down shirt is it. This timeless piece serves as a sartorial building block that works for a range of dress codes, making it one of the most versatile pieces in any wardrobe.
“I like a button-down worn open collar with jeans, corduroys, or chinos but not with a suit, as I think the casual style clashes with the formality of the tailoring,” says master shirtmaker Emma Willis. This type of shirt works well for any event, like a wedding or to the office. They come in a variety of colors to complete any outfit.
2. Dress Shirt
Whether you’re a fan of getting suited and booted or not, society dictates that you’re probably going to have to shoehorn yourself into a tuxedo at least a handful of times over the course of your existence. If you didn’t already know, black-tie requires a very specific type of dress shirt, so it’s best to have one handy for your next formal event.
A classic evening or dress shirt will typically be cut from pique (AKA Marcella) fabric, which was originally chosen for its ability to hold starch and keep the fabric crisp and stiff. There is also usually a bib, where the fabric is reinforced, a wing, pointed, or cutaway collar, and double cuffs, which require cufflinks to be worn.
In terms of styling, Willis suggests keeping things low key with the dress shirt. “I prefer simplicity for the evening,” she says. “A marcella bib front evening shirt with stud front and tiny jet or pearl studs and cufflinks, a cutaway collar – wing is only for white tie – and a black silk barathea bow tie.”
3. Cuban Collar Shirt
This breezy summer staple has always looked good, and thanks to the current fifties-fashion revival, it’s right on trend at the moment too. The ‘Cuban’ part refers to the shirt’s open collar, which makes it ideal for putting some air on your chest like your inner hairy-chested Colombian drug lord. The typical cuban collar shirt features a fairly boxy fit, straight hem, and button-up front.
This is one of those casual shirts for men that’s a must-have, but there are a few considerations to be made. “Approach with caution,” warns personal stylist Daniel Johnson. “This style is not for the thicker necked bloke. The golden rule, as ever with short sleeves is to make them fit to the arm – baggy sleeves make arms look skinnier and skinny arms make a chest look smaller – not great.”
You’ll be able to find these summer shirts in a huge range of colors and patterns. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your cuban collar shirt choice, but stay away from anything that looks like something your uncle would wear to the casino. Best for laid-back events, pair this type of shirt with a pair of well-tailored chinos for a dressed up look, or go with shorts or jeans if you’re keeping it casual.
Too warm for a coat, yet too cold for a T-shirt. That troublesome transitional period between the two meteorological extremes is notorious for throwing a wrench in the works where getting dressed is concerned.
Luckily, though, we have overshirts. The overshirt’s beauty lies in its versatility. It makes for a perfectly suitable light jacket when the weather is warmer. Or, you can layer things up on colder days and even wear a coat over the top in winter. The overshirt can be dressed up or down. Light shades are typically more casual, where darker-colored overshirts can be worn professionally or to more fancy occasions. Hint, they’re also ideal for covering up tattoos for men who are hoping to be more discreet.
Styling-wise, simplicity is the key with this type of shirt. “A dark blue overshirt with a white T-shirt works great,” adds Johnson. “But a shabby overshirt and a detailed tee looks like a sloppy teenager’s get-up.” Team it up with some raw denim and a pair of lace-up work boots and you’re good to go.
5. Flannel Shirt
Whether you’re chopping logs in rural Canadian woodland, or simply nipping out for a latte in mid-December, the humble flannel shirt is an absolute must in a wardrobe full of different types of shirts. This thick, soft flannel fabric is essential when the mercury drops and it’s versatile too, whether you opt for a plaid or plain version.
“A mid-weight or heavy flannel shirt is an absolute must for when the weather turns cooler,” says Alex Field, head of menswear at Reiss. “This classic piece is great for layering and can be worn open over a T-shirt or buttoned up so it mimics a light outerwear piece in the summer, or even in the winter under a parka when the cold needs to be kept at bay. Top it off with some dark denim jeans and a pair of sturdy boots and you’re all set to brave the elements in style.”
6. Office Shirt
It’s a horrible term, but the advent of business casual dress codes has meant that you can probably clock into your workplace in a much broader range of clothing than your father ever dared to. We think that’s a good thing, but there’s still room for wardrobe workhorses like the classic work shirt, especially if your boss still expects you to wear a tie. Out of all the different types of shirts for men, the work shirt is one you’ll likely get the most wear out of.
“There is nothing like the smooth, formal appearance of good quality two-fold poplin cotton for an everyday work shirt,” says Willis. “Textures such as twills, oxfords, and herringbones are perfect for a more casual shirt giving interest without a tie, but for that immaculate, clean, no-nonsense business look, a plain white or palest blue gleaming-with-quality poplin shirt and tie cannot be beaten.”
Look for a breathable poplin weave for stuffy days handcuffed to your inbox, and choose between a pointed or cutaway collar, depending on how much you want people to notice your tie. Some retailers will offer stretchy and anti-wrinkle fabrics, too. Light blues and pinks are solid team members but for its versatility, a white button up shirt will go home with the employee of the month award.
7. Chambray Shirt
No, it’s not denim. Chambray uses a plain weave in its construction, which results in a lighter fabric than the twill weave used for its jean-making cousin. This makes a chambray shirt a great option if you like the look of denim but find it a bit too much. This type of shirt looks fantastic with almost everything too, making it nothing short of a style staple. Chambray shirts can be dressed up or down, worn to a business-casual office, date night or to the bar for a night out.
Because of this versatility, the chambray men’s shirt couldn’t be easier to style. One of the main considerations is to ensure it doesn’t match too closely with your jeans. “Just vary the shade a bit,” says Sarah Gilfillan, founder of men’s personal styling service SartoriaLab. “Otherwise, wear it with chinos. Or you could put one with a light suit to make it look a bit more casual.”
8. Classic Short Sleeve T-Shirt
It wasn’t so long ago that the the short sleeve shirt was a style crime reserved for delivery drivers, bible salesmen, and scary men in nightclubs with pupils the size of coffee cups. Fortunately, designers have reclaimed the basic t-shirt style for its versatility and warm-weather practicality.
In recent years, the perfect t-shirt has become a vehicle for broader summer trends, from tropical prints and geometric patterns to pastel colors and vertical stripes. Whatever your preferred mode of turning heads, a basic t-shirt works with most summer legwear from shorts and chinos to lighter denim and linen trousers.
Wear casually, usually without tucking it in. The perfect t-shirt will have sleeve ends no higher than mid-bicep and be sure to never wear it with a suit.
9. Polo Shirt
A step up from the basic t-shirt, solid color polo shirts are a must-have for both casual wear and more dressed up occasions. Who knew a simple collar could make a world of difference?
With dozens of well revered names to choose from, the polo shirt has been perfected over decades by the likes of Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and other classic players in the men’s fashion game.
Polos work well on a variety of body shapes and come in a huge range of colors. As far as men’s casual shirts go, this is one you don’t want to skip out on.
10. Denim Shirt
Don’t be too quick to write the denim shirt off as a fashion faux pas. Worn right, this classic workwear item can give your outfit an added dose of masculinity and lend a casual edge when worn with an unstructured blazer, or even a full suit if you’re feeling brave.
The fashion police seem to have an eternal arrest warrant out for double denim too, which is one thing that might put a lot of men off wearing these types of shirts. However, if you’re clever about it, embracing the Canadian tuxedo can offer a way to inject some texture into your wardrobe.
“Never be scared of doubling up quality denim,” advises Danny Hodgson, owner of London-based premium denim shop Rivet and Hide. “It’s when the denim is of poor quality that you can make a bad situation worse. “Styling-wise, it’s good to wear a crispy new raw denim shirt with broken in and faded raw denim jeans, or vice versa.” The key lies in the contrast.
11. Linen Shirt
Is there anything worse than being crammed into a train carriage on a summer commute with some bloke’s soaking wet armpit so close to your face that you can almost taste the salt? Probably not. Don’t be that guy and swap out your Oxfords for linens when the mercury begins to rise.
There are different types of shirts for summer, but linen is the breezy answer to all of your warm-weather woes. It’s light, it’s airy and it gives you the chance to experiment with some pastel shades that you may not ordinarily go for.
“Nothing says summer like a linen shirt,” says Gilfillan. “Airy and breathable, I love a linen shirt with jeans or chinos, or you can roll up the sleeves and wear casually with shorts. I feel like you can be braver with color in a linen shirt too, though a white or pale blue is always a classic to have in your wardrobe.”
12. Mandarin Collar/Band Collar Shirt
A mandarin-collar shirt is a classy option for formal events when the idea of wearing a collared shirt and tie makes you want to stay home. It’s a modern style of men’s shirt that will keep you free of frills and bow ties, but you’ll still look great.
A versatile shirt option for any guy’s wardrobe, wear your band collar shirt with chinos or fitted black jeans for a more dressed-up version, or pair it with your favorite blue jeans for a more dressed-down vibe. Pair with a pair of dress shoes to look like the Alpha you are at any social event. Roll up the sleeves for an added air of swagger.
13. Henley Shirt
The henley shirt is a casual shirt that’s a step above a plain tee, below a polo, but smarter than a sweatshirt. It’s the menswear equivalent of Goldilocks – this one fits just right. Whether you’re chilling at home watching Netflix all day, or grabbing a casual drink with friends, the henley tee is an irresistible addition to any dude’s closet.
Pair it with jeans, joggers, or chinos in one of the most all-purpose tops there is. It’s hard to make a henley very dressy, but it’ll work for all casual occasions and any event where there will be guys wearing shorts. Usually in a thicker knit, henleys are a great transition piece from summer to winter, and we’re willing to bet you’ll reach for yours again and again.
What are types of shirts for men?
Men’s shirts come in many different varieties. Depending on the event, types of shirts for men could be an Oxford, a dress shirt, a flannel, a henley or a polo.
What type of shirts looks best on men?
Know your body type, because therein lies the answer. The truth is there’s no one type of men’s shirt that looks best on all guys. Try some different types out, and make sure you master the sizing. A slim fit is traditionally most flattering. You don’t want the shirt to be too tight around the chest and arms where it restricts your movement. Opt for something tailored and smart to look your best.
What are different shirt styles?
There are dozens of different types of shirts for men, but some of the best men’s shirts include the smart Oxford collar shirt, the casual Cuban-collar shirt, the laid-back Mandarin collar shirt, the casual flannel shirt or chambray shirt, the uber-casual polo, tee-shirt or henley shirt, or the smart-casual linen shirt.